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Opinion
Ricardo Castillo
Ricardo Castillo War Over 2017 Budget There is still a long month ahead of discussions
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Much ado and concern about the nation’s 2017 federal government budget is moving from all angles, not just at the Chamber of Deputies, where it will be finally approved at the end of October.

Just Wednesday the greatest opposition block to the financial package President Enrique Peña Nieto sent to Congress “for immediate approval” — by members of the left-wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) — met with Treasury and Public Finance (SHCP) Secretary José Antonio Meade Kuribreña to discuss what they consider the brutal slashing of social programs.

Not only that, they want secretary Meade Kuribreña to know that the governors of Morelos, Tabasco, Michoacán, Oaxaca and Mexico City, all of them PRD representatives, along with the party’s president Alejandra Barrales, threatened to vote nay given the “political” nature of the budget cuts.

One thing that Meade Kuribreña must explain to the PRD governors is the meaning of the word “political,” as well as convince them that this word doesn’t apply to the budget cuts. In this case, all of the above mentioned states’ governors feel the 2017 budget hit their states especially hard, but mostly because they represent a political organization whose ideology and budget use President Peña Nieto does not approve of.

Another problem is that even though the 2017 budget is apparently in Meade Kuribreña’s court, the president tossed it into his lap last month when former SHCP Secretary Luis Videgaray was removed from the post and Meade ended up — as Mexicans put it when confronted with an unwanted situation — “dancing with the homeliest girl in the hall.”

In short, this was a budget drafted and proposed by Luis Videgaray, and Meade Kuribreña quickly got rid of it following procedure and sent it to both houses of Congress. But it’ll be at the Chamber of Deputies where it will be approved or rejected.

Again, on the political side of the budget, the PRD governors foresee turmoil for them caused by the budget slashes, as they too will have to cut down on some of the so-called “social programs” which include anything from helping the millions of needy Mexicans buy staple foods to helping them find housing.

The cuts would probably make the president happy, as problems for other political parties could mean people eloping back to his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

One attitude Meade Kuribreña has already stated is that the 2017 budget has to be approved as presented, because, even if it was not his brainchild, it reflects the president’s view of the economy and how to keep the inflationary pressure cooker over a low fire and meet his projected 2.13 gross domestic product growth.

There is still a long month ahead of discussions and no matter how Meade Kuribreña tries to have the budget approved as presented, it is far less than what everyone was expecting, as the glory money of the once buoyant Mexican oil economy has been squandered by past administrations and as money usually does, the oil savings from yesteryear have all but fizzled out.

But still, the Mexican government is not bankrupt and has the necessary means to bring about a feasible agreement as to allotments. Although the final outcome will surely not satisfy everyone, the truth of the matter is that the budget cuts will be there regardless of what the intra-party political games may be, particularly by a Peña Nieto administration at its lowest popularity ebb.

But even if Meade Kuribreña is playing on the soft-side, the PRD governors are banging on his door and demanding that whatever was taken away from them, be given back.

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